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Eco Travel Guide to South Africa and Southern Africa
  
   
 
EcoEducation Resources
 

 Technikons
 (Diploma in Nature Conservation)

 
  • Technikon SA
    • Diploma in Nature Conservation
 

 Universities
 (Various Eco-Degrees)

 
  • University of Natal (Pietermarizburg)
    • BSc Agric (Wildlife Science)
    • BSc Agric (Grassland Science)
  • UNISA (Part-time)
    • BA (ENV) Environmental Management
    • BSc (ENC/B/Z) Environmental Management
 

 Other Education Facilities
 (Various Diplomas, FGASA etc.)

 
   

Education for "Pleasure" or a Career in EcoTourism

The range of qualifications you can do is enormous so be sure of your abilities / aptitude for the career path that you have chosen before selecting a course or qualification. Don't settle for second best; you are choosing a career that you may spend the rest of your life in! You will need plenty of spare time, dedication and money for the course fees before you can begin to to study full time.

Most part-time courses are less expensive and more suitable for those who need work while they study. Part-time study needs much more dedication as you will need to study when you least feel like it, after work or when your other friends are going out. If you have the choice, try and get a job that will improve your practical skills / knowledge for the career choice that you have chosen. Don't miss a chance to learn more from fellow colleagues by being too full of yourself or too proud to make a fool of yourself. Learning about nature is a long adventurous journey that is at times rather daunting. Persevere! Trust me it is worth it in the long run!

Lots of money is not what you'll get in most EcoTravel Industry careers! Job satisfaction while working in idyllic locations is part of your salary! Salaries range between R650 (minimum wage) to R5,000 per month plus tips. Dare I say it...tips from tourists can sometimes add up to a tidy sum though! I hear it is possible to get tips as high as R20,000 per month! Wow! Yet a more likely range is R2,000 to R4,000 per month even at a top end lodge. For those in the field however...nature doesn't have much time for money, so I am afraid no monetary tips for you guys...just many memories I suppose!

Who's who?

Guiding:

For guiding you will need to register as a guide with your Provincial Tourism Authority. You Guide ID card will be issued if you have qualifications that comply with the new National Qualifications Framework.

Definitions of guiding qualifications:

  • Field guide: offers interpretation of the ecosystem, protection, and keeps discipline in the group (additionally sometimes teaching basic bushcraft and safari skills); often uses a vehicle on excursions - Field Guide Levels 1, 2 and 3.
    • Special Knowledge Skills (SKS): the minimum FGASA requirement for a field guide to lead a party on foot in dangerous game country.
    • Tracker, and Master Tracker: a category created for guides with a high proficiency in interpretative skills, but whose level of formal education precludes them from sitting for a field guide exam.
  • Wilderness guide: offers interpretation of the ecosystem, protection to the group and keeps discipline in the group, often using "soft" or "people" skills as an integral part of the job; never uses a vehicle when facilitating a wilderness experience.
    • Trail Leader and Trail Assistant: a category created to accommodate what used to be called "game guides", who may have a high proficiency in "hard" bush skills, but is yet to acquire the "soft" skills of managing a trail group, and using the holistic wilderness experience to inculcate among trailists an understanding of sustainability issues.

(An SKS qualification would be on a par with Trail Leader; while a Trail Assistant may not lead a trail in country with dangerous game, a FGASA-registered Level 3 Field Guide can and does lead trails.)

Other guiding and safari names:

  • "Field ranger": manages protected areas
  • "Ranger": used typically in lodge environments to refer to the guide who takes guests out in a game drive vehicle (sometimes on foot); seen in some quarters as being closer to a tour guide than a field or wilderness guide.
  • "Tracker": used both in lodge environments, but also by FGASA, as the individual who identifies spoor or animals on trail.
  • "Safari guide": originally used in the context of hunting safaris, but in the age of ecotourism more commonly to refer to the person in charge of clients on a photographic safari.
  • "Professional Hunter": accompanies hunting clients, usually into areas containing dangerous game.

There are three associations that accredit courses for trainers of guides who would like to make a career in the bush (sometimes also operating in other biomes, such as desert or mountain regions). All of these associations subscribe to the need for setting high standards - to deliver a quality product to tourists, and to rid the industry of "fly-by-nights".

  
Students on a  Enviro Training Africa course.  

The Field Guides Association of South Africa (FGASA)
>> FGASA web site

Established in the late 1980's to set standards in the industry, it accredits trainers and is recognised by Satour.

Courses:

  • Field Guide Levels 1, 2 and 3
  • Special Knowledge Skills (SKS)
  • Tracker and Master Tracker

For affiliated trainers see the Eco-Education Resources list block on this page.

The Wilderness Guides Association (WGA)
Representing highly reputable organisations involved in training and guiding for decades, the WGA strongly emphasises "soft" or "people skills" in addition to "hard" ones. Its membership includes trainers, trails leaders and assistants.

Affiliated trainers:

  • The Trails Section of Kruger National Park.
  • KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service (the former Natal Parks Board and KwaZulu-Natal Department of Nature Conservation).
  • The Wilderness Leadership School.
  • Individuals trained by any one of these bodies, but who are now operating on their own.

Courses:

  • Trail Leader
  • Trail Assistant
  
 

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